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The Eunuchs of Yugoslavia

The United Nations and the Third Balkan War

If there is one lesson we should have learned from the history of the past 90 years, it is that minor crises, unless promptly dealt with, almost invariably build up into major international disasters. This is not to say that such disasters are absolutely avoidable—that would be wishful thinking. But it is to say that an inclination to do nothing and to "let events take their course" simply inflates the magnitude of the subsequent catastrophe.

I write these lines with reference to what Branko Lazitch, one of France's foremost Sovietologists who is himself of Serbian origin, has aptly called the "Third Balkan War." The article in which he used this phrase (published in the June 1992 issue of the Paris monthly Est & Quest) provided an incisive description and analysis of something experienced by Serbian leader Slobodan Miloshevitch during a visit to the historic battlefield of Kosovo on April 24, 1987, which hit him with the force of a Damascene revelation: the explosive potential of strident, xenophobic nationalism. This discovery, I might add, had already been made, more than 60 years before, by an Austrian-born demagogue named Adolf Hitler, who decided in the early 1930's that the "nationalism" inherent in National Socialism was a far more potent rabble-rousing force than its "socialist" ingredient, to which his chief rival in the party, Gregor Strasser, was more solidly...

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